Frantic 911 calls from Valley Fire reveal confusion, frustration

- Frantic 911 calls from the Valley Fire show many people underestimated how quickly the fire would grow. 

The Lake County Sheriff's Department released the recordings on Friday.

The Valley Fire started near Cobb mountain on September 12, 2015 and quickly destroyed 76,000 acres in Lake, Sonoma and Napa Counties. Nearly 2,000 homes were destroyed and four people were killed. Four firefighters were also injured. 

There were 254 calls made to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The following are excerpts from those calls.

“The fire is burning very close to my house and my wife is disabled and I have no vehicle,” one man said.

Another woman found herself in the same situation telling dispatchers, “I don’t have a car. There’s no way to get out.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office then began receiving calls from Hidden Valley Lake.

“We’re trying to evacuate Powder Horn,” another man said. “My wife has fallen. We’re both 82 and she can hardly move. We’re going to need some assistance.”

In the midst of the chaos and confusion, emotions ran high.

“There’s a huge fire coming into Hidden Valley,” a resident said frantically to a dispatcher. “We’re all blocked up in here. We’re sitting on the same street as we left. It’s burning up our house and there are cars piled up everywhere.”

Several calls came from people who were disabled or from people who had loved ones trapped without a car or a phone.

By the first day’s end, hundreds were displaced by the Valley Fire’s devastating flames.

“Yeah well my house burned down on Cobb,” one man said. “I'm stranded over here in Lakeport. I'm trying to find a place to go and stay.... Where can I go?”


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